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Letter to Dalton McGuinty from legal counsel for Mike Harris

[SISIS note: The following statement is provided for reference only. Inclusion of this article on our site should not be considered an endorsement by SISIS.]

Attention News Editors:

TORONTO, June 7 /CNW/ -

VIA FACSIMILE (416) 325-3745

The Honourable Dalton McGuinty
Legislative Building
Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A1

Dear Sir:
Re: The Ipperwash Inquiry

We are counsel to the Honourable Michael D. Harris and represent him in The Ipperwash Inquiry.

In the legislature yesterday you were criticized by Progressive Conservative members regarding ongoing events in Caledonia, Ontario, where direct action has been taken by some First Nations persons regarding certain land issues. In responding to that criticism you made the following statements:

"The party opposite would prefer that we direct a police action. Let's be honest about where they're coming from in this regard. That is their preference. We bring a different approach. It is thoughtful; it's based on our recent understanding of some painful lessons in the history of this province.
"I prefer to be direct with Ontarians. Again, the Conservatives prefer that we direct the police and that we send them out on some kind of police action. We see things differently. They have not drawn the appropriate lessons from what happened some four years ago. We have.
"But I suggest to my friend opposite that he really should own up to the fact that the objection he has, in terms of the approach we have taken, is that we have refused to direct the Ontario Provincial Police.
"What the member opposite is asking us to do is to direct the Ontario Provincial Police in the conduct of a police action."

The plain meaning of these statements is that Progressive Conservatives have in the past preferred and have chosen to address direct action by First Nations persons by directing police operations against them. Any reasonably informed Ontarian would also understand through your references to the past and "painful lessons in the history of this province" that your words referred to the police operations involving First Nations persons at Ipperwash Provincial Park in 1995 and their tragic outcome.

Your statements demonstrate complete ignorance of the evidence that has in fact been heard by The Ipperwash Inquiry. The allegation that Premier Harris directed the police operations at Ipperwash is unfounded.

Your statements also presume the outcome of matters in issue in The Ipperwash Inquiry's ongoing proceedings. For a Premier of Ontario to make such statements is plainly prejudicial to the integrity of The Ipperwash Inquiry's process. You should immediately withdraw your improper statements and apologize to Commissioner Sidney Linden.

Any allegation that Premier Harris directed the police operations at Ipperwash is also gravely defamatory of Mr. Harris personally. Our client will not tolerate the revival for your present political purposes of irresponsible and unfounded smear tactics deployed against our client in the past by members of your government.

If you make such statements again outside the legislature, either expressly or impliedly, legal proceedings will immediately be commenced against you personally.

Yours truly,

Peter A. Downard

cc. W.A. Derry Millar, Lead Commission Counsel, The Ipperwash Inquiry

For further information: Peter A. Downard, (416) 865-4369,

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